By Chancy Namadzunda:
The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has described the current shortages of fuel, forex and persistent blackouts as a sign that Malawi is turning into a failed State.
A statement signed by HRDC Chairperson Gift Trapence said the fuel crisis that has bedeviled the country over the past two weeks is a sign that the country is sitting on a time bomb and calls for immediate action by the government.
“While both the government and the National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA) continue to assure the nation that the fuel situation is under control, we, at HRDC, notice with sadness that this is contrary to the situation on the ground as Malawians continue to queue for fuel for hours on end.
“What is most troubling is that both the government and NOCMA are not giving Malawians convincing reasons as to the cause of this crisis and what solutions they have at hand, which prompts us to believe that they have no solutions at all,” reads the statement in part
Further, Trapence said the fact that NOCMA audaciously attributed the fuel scarcity to an international music show and an international football match in Lilongwe two weeks ago is patronising, condescending, laughable and an insult to all right-thinking Malawians.
“On numerous occasions, NOCMA has claimed that they have fuel reserves to caution the country in times like these. Added to the fuel problem is the fact that, over the past three months, the country has and continues to suffer from erratic electricity supply and a shortage of forex.
“These on-going shortages of essential drivers of the economy points to a national crisis and we demand that government should come out clearly on the issue and assure Malawians.
“We demand that the government should lucidly explain what solutions they have put in place to address the issues of fuel scarcity, power blackouts and shortage of forex in the country.
“What we have on our hands is nothing short of a crisis because forex, fuel and electricity are the hub of running most businesses. In the absence of these, it means that businesses are crippled, and, in turn, the economy is being strangulated,” he said
At this rate, said Trapence, we run the risk of this country turning into a failed state, if it is not one already.
He further noted that the impression President Lazarus Chakwera and his cabinet are creating is that they are silent spectators who are thinking that the problems will solve themselves or simply disappear on their own.
“But that is not what Malawians voted them into power for. What President Lazarous Chakwera needs to know is that the country is in dire straits and life has become unbearable for ordinary Malawians. People have been suffering silently for a while but this time, because of government’s inaction in solving the problems, Malawians have been squeezed to a tight corner, they cannot breathe while their leaders are behaving as if everything is normal.
“We urgently call upon President Lazarus Chakwera to address the nation on what is going on in the country and to explain what government is doing to normalise the situation.
“If, by their own silent admission, the Tonse Alliance Government has no solutions in sight for this crisis, then they should accept their shortcomings, step aside and let a competent team lead this country forward,” reads the statement.